Center for the Inland Bays Releases Findings from their Mountair - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Center for the Inland Bays Releases Findings From its Mountaire Pollution Committee

Posted: Apr 09, 2018 4:33 PM Updated:

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- The Center for the Inland Bays says Mountaire Farms' wastewater violations have impacted nearby Swan Creek and the Indian River.

The environmental group used public documents--some obtained from Freedom of Infomration Act requests--to compile their findings. The Center for the Inland Bays alleges that at one point three of the seven groundwater monitors did not work and that the nitrogen loading to fields was under-calculated. 

"The long term aspects of the pollution and the facility not meeting its permit requirements-- not just last summer but for years in the past--is very important," Center for the Inland Bays Executive Director Chris Bason tells WBOC. "I think also the very high value of nitrogen that was seen in the river last summer is something that we now have to really look out for. We are going to have to do increased monitoring of the river to make sure the resources there are protected."

In a statement to WBOC, Mountaire Farms says the Center's report "couldn't be further from the truth."

"Contrary to the impression given by the Center’s report, groundwater nitrate levels in and around Millsboro are elevated due to historic agricultural practices that existed for generations, along with the use of septic systems and cesspools in many of Sussex County’s growing rural and semi-rural communities," the statement reads in part. "The Center’s report fails to address this critical fact, and also gives little or no mention of the presence of other sources of nutrients into the watershed, including three municipal or County wastewater treatment plants (Inland Bays Regional, Piney Neck Regional and City of Millsboro) engaged in land application of sludge and spray irrigation."

The Center for the Inland Bays' report says nitrogen from Mountaire made up nearly half of the Indian River's healthy limit for the chemical in 2009. The report also alleges that Mountaire could have been in violation since 2005 and that three of seven shallow ground water monitors weren't working. While Mountaire's response does not address all the specific statements in the Center for the Inland Bays' report, their message is clear.

"The Center’s report repeatedly jumps to conclusions using terms such as “possibly” and “likely” to suggest the existence of facts without corresponding data to demonstrate these supposed facts, and when data does appear in the report, it is often selectively used," the statement reads. "The real facts are that, yes, Mountaire’s system upset did significantly exceed permit limits; however, the upset occurred for a relatively short period of time, and all credible experts will agree that it had no immediate impact offsite."

The Center for the Inland Bays says neither DNREC nor the EPA enforced Mountaire's violations for years, something they hope changes going forward.

"We have an opportunity now to step in and try and get things right and begin the process of rebuilding the health of the bays," Board Member Mike Dunmeyer tells WBOC.

The Center for the Inland Bays says the health of the inland waterways is so important they're holding a River Rally in Millsboro next month. It will take place at Cupola Park on Thursday, May 10 at 4 p.m.

To read the full Center for the Inland Bays report, click here. Mountaire Farms' full response can be read in the PDF below. 

 

 

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